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The steel anchor

BACKSTAGE

G Balachandar  |  Chennai 

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) thespian, Arcot N Veerasamy, has efficiently echoed thalaivar (leader) Karunanidhi's thoughts, be it in his comments on judges, or issuing fiats to MRF to lift its ongoing lockout, or replying to allegations of opposition parties and allies. His retorts against judges at a marriage function in February evoked strong criticism and opposition from the legal fraternity.
Veerasamy's remarks came after the Madras High Court's observations on issues such as local body polls and constitution of an enquiry commission on a student death in a school.
Veerasamy has had a slow and steady rise in Tamil Nadu politics. The treasurer of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and minister of electricity and personnel and administrative reforms, who, years ago, worked as a clerk in the state electricity board, was handpicked by DMK founder, C N Annadurai, as a candidate for the Arcot constituency in 1967. Since then, the 70-year-old has not looked back, gaining fame for his abilities to balance an acrid tongue with an uncanny talent to dissolve simmering tensions.
During the Emergency, Veerasamy was arrested under the draconian MISA rules and in the early eighties, after the death of Sathik Pasha, then treasurer of the DMK Party, he became the treasurer and emerged as No 3 in the party after Karunanidhi and K Anbazhagan in the early eighties. In 1989, he was made a minister for the first time.
After Murasoli Maran's (DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi's nephew) death in 2003, it was natural for Karunanidhi to sense a vacancy to the post of conscience keeper. Slowly, Arcot Veerasamy, emerged as a replacement for Murasoli Maran in the DMK, even as the rift between the Maran and Karunanidhi clans widened, says a senior political analyst.
After the attack last year by supporters of the patriarch's elder son, M K Azhagiri, on the Dinakaran office in Madurai following a political survey published by the paper, Arcot Veerasamy was seen as a key person in decision-making meetings and played a vital role in setting up and launching Kalaignar TV as a rival channel to Kalanidhi Maran's Sun TV.
The family quarrel spilt over into the public space after the Dinakaran attack and Maran's subsequent expulsion from the party. Veerasamy's troubleshooting skills were in demand again. He was sent to New Delhi to meet United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and explain why Dayanidhi Maran was ousted from the party.
With no possible patch-up seen between the Maran and Karunanidhi clans, Veerasamy is likely to retain his role as an able steward to Karunanidhi, points out a political observer. He was recently given the important portfolio of Personnel and Administrative Reforms, which used to be held by Karunanidhi.
The strong working relationship between the two is undeniable. Referring to his protégé's remarks on judges, Karunanidhi was to say that everyone had been waiting to see who would bell the cat. "Today, Veerasamy has done it," he said. That sums it up rather well.

First Published: Mon, February 04 2008. 00:00 IST
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